Debate Magazine

The Rotten Fruits of Pope Francis: Church Schism, Conservative Rebellion, and Approval of Iran Nuke Deal

By Eowyn @DrEowyn

“By their fruit you will recognize them.” -Matthew 7:16

rotten apple

Rotten Fruit #1: culture war within church hierarchy

His papacy is only 2½ years  old, and already Pope Francis has provoked a raging culture war within the Catholic Church.

Anthony Faiola reports for The Washington Post, Sept. 7, 2015, that rather than stake out clear stances, Francis is more subtly, often implicitly, backing liberal church leaders who are pressing for radical change, while dramatically opening the parameters of the debate over how far reforms can go. Since then, liberals have tested the boundaries of their new freedom, with one Belgian bishop going as far as calling for the Catholic Church to formally recognize same-sex couples.

In more than a dozen interviews, including with seven senior church officials, insiders say the change wrought by Francis “has left the hierarchy more polarized over the direction of the church than at any point since the great papal reformers of the 1960s.

There is “a growing sense of alarm” about Francis among the Catholic Church’s conservative clergy, who have launched “a conservative backlash” against “the liberal momentum building inside the church.”

The conservative rebellion is taking on many guises — in public comments; in the rising popularity of conservative Catholic Web sites promoting Francis dissenters; books and promotional materials backed by conservative clerics seeking to counter the liberal trend; and leaks to the news media, aimed at Vatican reformers.

While criticism of a sitting pope is not unusual — liberal bishops on occasion challenged Francis’s predecessor, Benedict XVI — what shocks many is just how public the criticism of Francis has become. Here are some examples:

  • Wisconsin-born Cardinal Raymond Burke who, in November 2014, was demoted by Francis from his position as Cardinal Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, recently told a French news crew that he would “resist” liberal changes, and called the church under Francis “a ship without a rudder.” Burke also seemed to caution Francis about the limits of his authority, saying, “One must be very attentive regarding the power of the pope. Papal power is not absolute. The pope does not have the power to change teaching [or] doctrine.”
  • A senior Vatican official said on the condition of anonymity that conservatives have been thrust unfairly into a position in which “defending the real teachings of the church makes you look like an enemy of the pope. We have a serious issue right now, a very alarming situation where Catholic priests and bishops are saying and doing things that are against what the church teaches, talking about same-sex unions, about Communion for those who are living in adultery. And yet the pope does nothing to silence them. So the inference is that this is what the pope wants.
  • In an open letter to his diocese, Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, R.I., wrote: “In trying to accommodate the needs of the age, as Pope Francis suggests, the Church risks the danger of losing its courageous, countercultural, prophetic voice, one that the world needs to hear.” Commenting on Francis’ call for dramatic action and a supranational new global authority on climate change, Pell told the Financial Times in July, “The church has got no mandate from the Lord to pronounce on scientific matters.”
  • In conservative circles, the word “confusion” also has become a euphemism for censuring the papacy without mentioning the pope. 500 Catholic priests in Britain drafted an open letter this year that cited “much confusion” in “Catholic moral teaching” following the bishops’ conference on the family last year in which Francis threw open the floodgates of debate, resulting in proposed language offering a new stance for divorced or gay Catholics. Although that language ultimately was watered down, it set up another showdown for next month, when senior church leaders will meet in a follow-up synod that observers predict will turn into another theological slugfest. Francis will have the final word on any changes next year.
  • Last year, five senior leaders, including Burke and Cardinal Carlo Caffarra of Bologna, Italy, drafted a “manifesto” against a possible policy change that would grant divorced and remarried Catholics the right to take Communion at Mass. In July, a DVD distributed to hundreds of dioceses in Europe and Australia, and backed by conservative Catholic clergy members, made the same point.


The Culture War within the church hierarchy may lead to a rupture.

Maike Hickson reports for LifeSiteNews, Sept. 8, 2015, that Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Mueller, the head of the Catholic Church’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), said German bishops are leading the Church to a schism.

According to the German newspaper Die Tagespost, Mueller criticized “a climate of the German claim to leadership for the Universal Church.” Many German bishops have declared that “life realities” must be taken into account as part of Church teaching and salvation. However, Mueller said the goal should not be “about adapting the Revelation to the world, but … about gaining the world for God.”

Mueller said that he is frequently asked why German bishops claim to be leaders of the Catholic Church — while flouting teachings on marriage and sexuality — despite overseeing dramatic reductions in church attendance, shrinking numbers of seminarians, and a drop in vocations to religious orders.

Mueller specifically identified allowing “remarried” Catholics to receive the Eucharist, as well as accepting a redefinition of marriage, as challenges to overcome. “We may not deceive the people, when it comes to the sacramentality of marriage, its indissolubility, its openness toward the child, and the fundamental complementarity of the two sexes,” he firmly stated. “Pastoral case has to keep in view the eternal salvation,” as opposed to a desire to be popular or accepted in the world.

Rotten Fruit #3: Vatican approves of iran deal

Jordan Schachtel reports for Breitbart that on Sept. 15, 2015, Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Vatican’s chief diplomat, released a statement officially welcoming the nuclear agreement between the P5+1 world powers (U.S., UK, China, France, Russia, Germany) and Iran, stating that the Holy See believes Tehran will reduce its nuclear capabilities in exchange for sanctions relief.

Moreover, in calling for a Middle East free of nuclear weapons, the Vatican also appeared to target Israel, given that it is the lone nuclear power in the region.

H/t Fr. Michael T. Barry, who had this comment about the Vatican’s approval of the Iran deal: “What? LSD in Vatican water supply?”


Francis will arrive in Washington, D.C., on September 22.

On Sept. 23, he will be welcomed to the White House by Obama, who, in a supreme “F-you” gesture to the Church, has invited to the meeting with Francis a freak-show of opponents of traditional Catholic teachings, including a pro-abortion nun, a transgender woman transvestite, the first openly-homosexual Episcopal bishop, and two “Catholic” homosexual activists.

H/t FOTM’s MomOfIV

See also:

  • The Illegitimate Pope: Election of Jorge Bergoglio as Pope Francis was contaminated by lobbying in violation of papal laws
  • Pope Francis praises homosexual children’s book
  • Pope Francis calls again for wealth redistribution, while U.S. archbishops live in palatial homes
  • Pot calls kettle black: Pope Francis chastises pastors for talking too much
  • Pope Francis calls for a new global authority to combat ‘climate change’
  • Pope Francis goes after gun makers
  • Pope Francis endorses redistribution of wealth by the State
  • Father Linus Clovis on the “Francis Effect”
  • St. Francis of Assisi’s end times prophecy and the two popes


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